Stories from the North

In the tradition I study and practice, Mexica, the direction North gives teachings about transformation, death, re-birth, ancestral memories and wisdom from our grandfathers and ancestors. The past few years during the peak summer month July in Sweden, I travel to the edge of this direction: our family house in the far north. Situated in Sapmí and the Swedish Lapland, just east of the World Heritage Laponia, this truly is the far north. Reindeers show us the way as the car drives further and further along the empty roads in the forest. The outback and wilderness of Sweden live precisely here.

Every year I go with my sisters and brothers, blood or heart family or both. This year, Hubby and I went on a long road trip to get there. It amazes me that every year I long for the tranquility, the wild rivers and deep forests surrounding the mountains and it seems I have forgotten about the Story of the North. Every year I seem to forget about the hardship of North’s transformational journey. Or, most likely, that is why I go. To remember. To transform.

The trip itself is a long and, in many ways, challenging one of about 1700 kms. Last year, as some might remember, my partner and I hitchhiked and tried to find various cheap options to travel thru Sweden. We crisscrossed the country with free rental cars, local buses and trains to get here. Previous years, I’ve taken the over-night train or driven all the way with only a few bathroom stops. This year was a compromise with driving divided into smaller journeys. Upon arrival, everybody always gives a sigh of relief, happiness and gratitude that we made it. And then we rest. For several days we rest, with some occasional sauna bathing in between. After about four days the restlessness arrives. It takes over the entire body by allowing tiredness to linger while heaviness starts to make room in the emotional, mental and physical body.

remains of a Sami Kåta (tipi), with the fire in the center

remains of a Sami Kåta (tipi), with the fire in the center

One year, I tried to cure this restlessness by going for a run. It was a late summer afternoon, still warm and bright as daylight as I tied my shoes and went off. Outside the house runs one narrow dirt road and I figured it was best to simply follow it for a few kilometers and then turn around or I would get lost. After a couple of minutes, my skin was warm and moist, attracting mosquitos from the nearby village but I decided to keep going. Running the restlessness away. Suddenly, I see a big four-legged mammal some 300 meters in front of me! In the middle of the road, it stood staring at me. I tried to determine weather it was a moose or a reindeer, but it was too far away to tell for sure. My heart started pumping faster as I knew encountering an angry Mama Moose is nothing I wanted to do by myself in the middle of the forest (i.e. their territory!). The mosquitos bit hard, my pulse pumped and I decided to carry on (nothing could stop me in the pursuit for a cure against restlessness!). The four-legged ran into the forest before I got to see it properly but as I neared the place where it had stood I got the feeling of being observed. I slowed down again and started to listen. Nothingness. Slowly, I continued to run and turned my head to look over my shoulder. And there, in the edge of the forest it stood curiously starring at me! I jumped in surprise! Thankfully, it was a beautiful light grey reindeer that wanted to accompany me. But I had reached the point of return and instead started my way back.

Filled with mosquitos and bites by now, I ran faster while looking down at my feet in an attempt to keep them out off my eyes. Luckily, I kept my gaze at my feet as I turned onto the path towards the house and had to jump half a meter up in the air and to the right because of a fat and sun gazed snake that angrily opened its mouth and rose towards me! My instant jump made me avoid its jaws by just an inch. Back home, I went strait to the sauna to contemplate and decided that the mosquitos were reason enough not go running in this environment again.

Nowadays, I do my practice outside every morning and together with the mosquitos (sure, some mornings this might mean lighting all the incense at once) and the occasional reindeers passing by. I’ve learnt how to accept and embrace that they are too part of my practice and part of my story. But the deep and true teachings come from the hidden allegories inside the vast mountain stories; the endless forests filled with berries, the powerful rivers, and reindeer medicine, never ending daylight, the sauna and the stillness of Nature. Here lies the restlessness and all you have to do is to listen. Listen to the stories of the north.

The teachings of North are the stories of the un-imaginable amount of mosquitos and a never setting sun in summer, of the deep, dark, and cold winter, and of the dark energies that rest here. Dark energies coming from the history of the land(s), from our collective ancestral memory, and for me also from my ancestral blood linage memory. Here, in the silence between the mountains, death is always present. Few of the original habitants remain as they one by one grow older and pass on, their kids being long gone to the city. The abandoned villages and houses become more empty each day. Empty with stories that no one cares to listen to. And every here and there, houses and trees hold the souls that refuse to travel on because they never got to tell their story. They linger on until someone listens, giving the whole area a greyish gloom of unwelcoming bitterness and perhaps a protective shield against intruders. In the midst of this, my ancestral stories come to the surface as I climb the mountain or walk the swamps. Ancestral memories from the blood linage that are planted on this land, as well as those from my own personal story that needs to be healed reveal themselves inside the restlessness, darkness and silence. And just as in Costa Rica and the Mexica tradition I turn to the Temazcal (sweat lodge) for purification and to peel of layers to refine my being, here in the North I retreat to the firewood sauna where I can hide away from mosquitos and let my body and soul heal by listening to the stories wanting to be told. Over and over again.  

How To Travel Without Money in Sweden

Or How To Travel the World for Free

We got in to Luleå early in the morning, where we spent the day in nature together with yet a magic yogi friend. As the late afternoon came closer, we got on the local bus to Överkalix, where we were to spend the coming week in the mythical wilderness of the Northern forest.

The saga-like Light shines its glitter over us where we stand in awe in the deep forest. Nowhere but in the North will you find endless forests, swamps and light like this.

From here our story takes a different route as we decided to buy a car and name it Björnen (The Bear)- bringing with us some of the medicine from the north! And even though traveling by car might be the cheapest way to get around (and most definitely the easiest!) Sweden and the North, it is part of another story. So, let’s summarize How To Travel Cheap in Sweden for ya:

Transportation:

Combine sightseeing and transportation Like we did with Inlandsbanan

Combine transportation and sleep There are few over-night travel options in Sweden, but in the North is where you can find them. Sleep poorly while transporting yourself and you save one night worth of lodging, like we did between Umeå and Luleå.

Use local buses Harder to find and time consuming but generally cheaper, offers a lot of fun through random countryside experiences and take you further than you might think. Even across county borders, like when we traveled Dalarna!

Hitchhike might be time-consuming and expensive in terms of buying shitty food and snacks in every gas station you end up at in between rides. However, when wanting to get around a certain area (i.e. shorter rides and without the heavy packing) I recommend giving it a go, like we did in Rättvik.

Drive freerider cars Especially good when you want to get from A to B quick and B is really far away, like the first part of our trip.

Food:

Travel with a portable kitchen, in that way you can cook your own food basically wherever you are and save in on a lot of money. Check out foodbymagie for tips and recipes on easy and cheap food to cook both indoors and outdoors!

Use Allemansrätten and the common fireplaces at resting areas near the roads and by the lakes. Just be mindful with the fire! Read more about how I used it and what it allows you to do here

Learn the local plants, mushrooms and berries and just like that you have free food all around you! I will write more about this topic, if you are interested? In the meantime, check out foodbymagie and coming events and workshops here.

Accommodation:

Forest Camping & City Camping Travel with a tent in Scandinavia and you always have a place to crash. Read more about Allemansrätten and how we camped in Umeå.

Staying with friends & Couchsurfing We actually didn’t camp all that much, staying with good friends and locals always offer great experiences!

Work exchange Psst, there are cool work exchanges too, not just for accommodation, like we did on Yoga Camp and at Läkegården.

Hidden Costs: You know what I’m talking about; toilets, Internet, and most definitely where to store the bags when you don’t have a hotel/car or the like!

Library hangout: Good place to charge your devices + use the Internet for free. I’ve used the library both in big cities like Malmö and small towns like Kalix, you might need a library card in some places tho!

Toilets: The church. Even if you can’t find public toilets, you will find a church- go check their opening hours! In addition, I like to hang out in the often times very beautiful old buildings.

Backpack storage: Can’t find any lockers? No worries, locate the tourist information and ask if they have any suggestions. Both in Mora and Umeå they let us store our backpacks and bags for free! 

Do you have any great tips about traveling without money you think I should add? Or a great idea you think I should try? Comment below!

Next post: about the sacred waters and mountains of Arjeplog and how we ended up visiting a Samí family. 

Pura Vida!!

Summer Love Tour part IV (How To Travel Cheap in Sweden)

Part IV: BACK TO NATURE

Read part III                          Read part II                       Read part I

Free sightseeing: Holmön- the sunniest place in Sweden

After some time in the middle of Sweden, we craved to see Mother Ocean and, thus, headed straight to the coast and Holmön, just outside Umeå. The ferry from Norrfjärden is free and takes about 20 minutes. We truly enjoyed the quietness and openness Nature offers on this magic island by strolling around the forest, visiting a light house (that is also a hostel actually) and cooked lunch on the bare rocks, overlooking the wind stroking the waves. 

Free accommodation: Forest Camping

In the late afternoon, we caught the boat back and drove North East of Umeå to find a lake with a good camp site. During those days, we had a rental car- which is great when looking for a more quiet place to camp. It was beautiful to meditate with the sun dancing over the fresh water, swim in the warm lake and cook over the fire- much needed before heading in to town again. 

Camping outside Umeå, Sweden

Staying with friends For the following nights, we stayed with another Sofia Magdalena- yet a very special Yogini who offered her love, her presence and Umeå's best view. Thank you -- much Love, always! <3

City Camping After having had my last Park Yoga in Umeå (for this year ;) ), we had a delicious Vegan meal at the-place-to-be 'Båten'. Following a tip I received from a piano-playing traveler, with eyes brown like the deer and deep like the forest, we wandered across a bridge through a residential area and down to the river (Umeälven), where we found a perfect place to camp. As the sun became redder (rather than setting), we sat watching kids play with their scooters in the water, the boat (Båten, where we just were) and listening to the ongoing Music Festival from a park on the other side of the river. Wahe Guru, magic light! When all was quiet, we put our tent up for a few hours sleep.

Traveling TIPS on free stuff:

Camping according to Allemansrätten

Allemansrätten rules

Library Hangout: To charge devices and/or use internet. In big cities you might need a library card (it's free to get one). 

Toilets: The church. Good because you can see it from anywhere you are and it is open for everybody. And they have free toilets (remember to check their opening hours!). 

Where do you store your backpack for the day? Keep in mind that most towns, especially the smaller ones, don't have lockers to store big bags at the town's station(s). However, try locating the tourist information office and ask if they have any suggestions. If you're only in town for a few hours (they usually close at 6pm), they'll most likely let you store the bag in their office for free.

Wahe Guru, Magic Light! By Umeälven in Umeå, Sweden

Wahe Guru, Magic Light! By Umeälven in Umeå, Sweden

While in Umeå, we also dusted off a good ol' backpacker hangout: spending half the night at the train station. In Norrland during summer this is perfect 'cause it's never dark; it is warm and quiet. Add some quality company to that and you have some legit travellers' groove ;)

Umeå Train Station, Sweden

Did I miss any essentials? What kind of tips do you want me to write about? Send me an email or write in the "comments" below! 

Love and Light

/OM

Summer Love Tour part III (How to Travel Cheap)

Backpacking Mora - Östersund - Umeå

Read Part I

Read Part II

Stop Drop and Yoga in Mora, Dalarna, Sweden

Stop Drop and Yoga in Mora, Dalarna, Sweden

Mythic creatures in Mora, Sweden.&nbsp;

Mythic creatures in Mora, Sweden. 

The story continues with one day in the tiny winter village called Mora. This is where the famous ski cross-country competition Vasaloppet finishes (the world's longest competition being 90 km). We strolled around town for a few hours, waiting for our adventure to continue north in the afternoon when we got on a train called Inlandsbanan. This is the only train driving inland AND it offers a great sightseeing opportunity, thus we decided to travel all the way to Östersund. During the trip, we had a guide telling us anecdotes, we crossed a cataract from a 35 meters high bridge constructed in 1928, visited a deserted bear's nest and stopped for dinner in the middle of nowhere. Needless to say, it was beautiful, confusing and a lot of fun! 

The bear's nest along Inlandsbanan, Jämtland, Sweden.&nbsp;

The bear's nest along Inlandsbanan, Jämtland, Sweden. 

Sightseeing tip:
Catch Inlandsbanan to see and experience something different (in this part of the country one normally travels along the coast line) while you're transporting yourself. 

We spent two nights at a camp site (traditional Swedish "camping") in Östersund, since we had to wash our clothes and shower. Despite the price, it was a good choice considering the cold and rain we had during that time.

Camping tip:
Most Swedish camp sites require you to have a membership in the Swedish camp site society (part of Camping Key Alliance), even if you stay only for a night. Why? No one really knows, but this way they can charge you extra (read about the camping key here). Hence, if you plan ahead you could either try finding a place that isn't connected to SCR, or if you're planning on spending more nights get the membership in advance. Most campings offer access to their facilities (such as laundry and shower) for a small fee even if you don't stay there, which is good to keep in mind. 

Jamtli 1895 Östersund Sweden&nbsp;

Jamtli 1895 Östersund Sweden 

Jamtli 1942, Östersund Sweden&nbsp;

Jamtli 1942, Östersund Sweden 

Besides doing laundry, we visited the biggest attraction they have in Östersund: Jamtli, the park that tells the story of Jämtland county during late 1700, mid 1800, early 1900 and the 1975 hippie era. Besides being a culture and nature precervance park with old houses from the area, cows, goats and horses- each century farm has actors showing the life of their time. In addition, the park contains a thoroughly museum, a handicraft store, an impressive restaurant, shows and a town square from the late 1800s. We enjoyed ourselves to the fullest, playing around as the kids we are, all day and of course made a longer stop at 1975 where we felt at home ;) For any backpacker in Sweden with an interest in history, nature, culture, traditions, farming etc, I warmly recommend visiting Jamtli (you'll need more than one day tho!) 

1975, Jamtli. The text says "...they agree with many others from the Green Wave, regarding criticism towards commercialism and wanting to live in unison with nature..."

1975, Jamtli. The text says "...they agree with many others from the Green Wave, regarding criticism towards commercialism and wanting to live in unison with nature..."

Flower Power and Peace Bus from 1975, Jamtli Sweden&nbsp;

Flower Power and Peace Bus from 1975, Jamtli Sweden 

Playing around in the town square, Jamtli Sweden

Playing around in the town square, Jamtli Sweden

The further north you go in Sweden (and the inland in particular), the more remote everything gets. This is our wildlife area, the Swedish Outback or Jungle if you want, which also means difficulties in traveling around, finding information and the like. For instance, just as in many places around Latin America or Asia most towns/villages have two or more stations for buses and trains but no info so you do best asking around. Hitch-hiking in these areas are therefore time consuming due to empty roads. We decided to grab a few different buses to reach Umeå and the coast, where we went straight into the forest....

Bonus tip: 
Few cities have lockers big enough for backpacks in the train/bus stations but if you're in town only for a day try asking at the Tourist Center (Turistinformation). They usually store the bag for you until closing time ( 6pm) for 2 bucks or the like. 

Is there anything you want me to write about? Comment below! :)

Love and Light

/OM

"The one who wanders must carry everything everywhere. The Sami people dont have many objects, but they are strong, light and well made."&nbsp; Jamtli museum

"The one who wanders must carry everything everywhere. The Sami people dont have many objects, but they are strong, light and well made."  Jamtli museum

Yoga Teacher Training Costa Rica

Guanacaste province is located in the northwest of Costa Rica. This province is the warmest in the country and between November and April there is hardly any rain (dry season), resulting in dry forests and a desert like climate.

During one of these hot months is when I decided it was a good time to do a Yoga Teacher Training. It happened to be located just outside of Tamarindo, which is basically as far as you can go from Puerto Viejo (southeastern corner of the country). And it was indeed hot, even I used air-condition! And, occasionally, I really missed the green jungle and all its sounds, movements, rain and humidity. I was surprised, however, that the howler monkeys woke us up around 5 am still, and they were close! Strolling around the surrounding areas showed me the many mango trees and it started to make sense why heaps of monkey families were hanging around in the desert.

Sunset Playa Negra, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

We started late in the mornings (6:45), when the sun was already up, making the sun heat the shala to a boiling temperature by the end of practice (9:30).  Everyday we also practiced teaching, had philosophy class, anatomy class and Yin Yoga. In total, we did more or less five to six hours of physical practice everyday. I truly enjoy that kind of intensity every now and again. The regularity takes my practice to new levels and the wisdom from the physical asanas (postures) grows deeper inside me. For anyone wanting to experience profound transformation, I recommend trying longer retreats (no matter what level you’re at on your path). And of course, I recommend joining me and Yoga By Magie for any workshops, classes and retreats :)

Reversed Prayer. Sunset Jaco Beach, Puntarenas province, Costa Rica

Every seventh day we had a day off. If you’re a yoga junkie, it’s hard not to do any practice at all, even though the body really needs some rest to process what it’s learning. I kept my morning meditations, in addition to going with some of the girls to Playa Negra to try Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga for the first time! We went to an empty beach where the ocean was quiet enough to not knock us of balance. Doing yoga outside can be challenging, but if you’re used to it and have a good drishti (focus) you will enjoy SUP yoga. My favorite part was lying in Savasana (on my back), hands touching the water, looking up to Father Sky and Grandmother Moon, noticing the shore with its trees in the distance while the sun was setting over the west coast of Costa Rica. Big hug to Naturalbeautyyoga who showed us this place!

I am grateful for having met such a beautiful group of strong, independent and open-minded women. Already a couple days in, I asked to experiment with them by guiding them through a drum meditation and ended up doing another one the week after. Thank you all for being so receptive and for everything you shared during these weeks!

Me and two of the girls drove down to Jaco for a couple of nights to get a different scenery and some beach. While they headed back home to Canada, I went visiting another yogini in San Jose and together we bussed down to Puerto Viejo to watch the craziness of the last Easter days. That is to say, I am now back in the buzzing jungle doing yoga, writing on the porch, doing sweat lodges and work at the wellness center.

Sabeena, Megan, Magie at Jaco Beach, Costa Rica

What did you do for Easter?

 

Pura Vida

 

Famous sunset Jaco Beach, Costa RIca. Foto: Magdalena Larsson

Famous sunset Jaco Beach, Costa RIca. Foto: Magdalena Larsson